AMuse: placemaker Guus Frenaij

Occupation: Social Area Developer Hague Living
Age: 36
Proud of: That I often get others involved in placemaking.
Key in placemaking… Speed ​​and action: you really have to pace yourself and, above all, just do things.

The right people

“As a social area developer, I try to create a pleasant, liveable neighborhood. A place where people feel involved, where they like to be and where they are proud of. I do this by finding the right people for each project and connecting them. For me, a project is only successful if there is a sustainable strategy, so that it can continue to grow in the future and all kinds of beautiful things are created around it.”

Manshiyat Naser

“I studied Human Geography and went to Cairo for my master's degree. There I conducted research into Manshiyat Naser, an informal neighborhood without government regulation. I expected to find a large ghetto, with a lot of misery. And of course there was. But what struck me most was that it was a neighborhood with so many nice, inspiring and enterprising people. An entire neighborhood had emerged, buzzing with energy and innovation. Then I thought: hey, people are very capable of building a neighborhood themselves. As a government you actually only have to facilitate it. That's where my interest in placemaking started.”

Junks in the garden

“If you talk to people, listen to them and bring them into contact with each other, something beautiful always arises. A few years ago, Haag Wonen started making a few residential blocks more sustainable. I then moved into the neighborhood to talk to local residents and see how we could immediately turn it into a pleasant living environment. I quickly came to the conclusion that it would be very strange to only tackle the real estate here and not the dilapidated courtyards where the junkies sometimes just slept.”

From one…

“I had to fight quite a bit to get money available for those indoor gardens. But we succeeded and the design was made together with the residents. I remember well standing in the garden talking to a mother. She told me that she really wanted her children to be able to play here too. But she lived on the first floor. We were just discussing the possibility of stairs when a neighbor walked by. He immediately made a staircase for her. The nice thing is that the design now includes stairs, so that everyone can reach the garden.”

Placemaking at housing associations

“Haag Wonen is no longer just about the bricks, but also about a nice neighborhood. We have high ambitions in this regard. And rightly so, I think. This ambition requires a completely different way of working and that takes time. But at least we are on the right track. Housing associations are in an ideal position to do placemaking; we own the real estate, often also the public space around it and we know the residents. That is why I think that housing associations should anchor placemaking much more in their organization, so that they not only build a good house, but also a nice neighborhood.”